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Metro Centre development taking shape in Owings Mills

The next phase of the mammoth Metro Centre at Owings Mills development started Tuesday as ground was broken for three new buildings while construction workers labored nearby.

(Architectural rendering)

The 45-acre multi-use, transit-oriented development located just off Interstate 795 is expected to open in phases beginning next year, said developer Howard Brown, president of David S. Brown Enterprises. It is funded with public and private resources.

As officials gathered underneath a tent in sweltering heat Tuesday, the next phase of the project was kick-started.

Soon, two five-story buildings with 28,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floors and 120 market-rate apartment homes on the upper four floors will begin to take shape. A four-story building, containing 200,000 square feet of office and retail space, also broke ground, and will house upscale and casual restaurants, and shops and boutiques. All are expected to open next spring.

The developments will be located along the newly constructed Grand Central Boulevard, located in the heart of Metro Centre.

“This project was first proposed in 1998 by the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development,” recalled County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a former member of the County Council.

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“And 13 years later, we broke ground on the first major building,” he added, referring to a six-story building that will hold a large branch for the Baltimore County Public Library and the Community College of Baltimore County in 120,000 square feet of space, also under construction at Metro Centre.

“Some things really do come to those who wait and persist. I feel like the future of this community is really taking shape.”

The state and county have invested $57 million in Metro Center so far. The development is the end point of the Baltimore Metro subway system, and will eventually contain additional shops, restaurants and office space as well as 1,700 new residential units, Brown said.

“The target audience for the apartment units are recent college graduates, young families and empty-nesters interested in an environment with all elements necessary for an active and sustainable lifestyle,” Brown said. Office leasing is expected to begin in the “near future,” he added.

The Metro Centre development is the biggest project in the area in decades.

County planning officials designated Owings Mills a growth area more than 30 years ago along with White Marsh. Since then, development in Owings Mills has occurred, but not at the pace once planned, some say because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers disallowed installation of a manmade lake in the community, which hurt development plans.

Construction of the Owings Mills Mall also never brought the retail success originally planned when the mall opened in 1986 with Saks Fifth Avenue and Bamberger’s (which later became Macy’s) department stores as anchors.

Owner General Growth Properties announced last year it is planning to demolish a majority of the mall and launch a complete redesign of the development, at a cost of about $65 million.

Nearby, plans by developer Greenberg Gibbons to build a $150 million retail project anchored by Wegmans at the former Solo Cup site on Reisterstown Road is facing a rezoning vote by the County Council on Aug. 28, Councilwoman Vicki Almond said Tuesday.

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